WBEZ | pharmaceuticals http://www.wbez.org/tags/pharmaceuticals Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en No Comment From Grinning Martin Shkreli at House Hearing on Drug Prices http://www.wbez.org/news/no-comment-grinning-martin-shkreli-house-hearing-drug-prices-114734 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/drugs.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res465557408" previewtitle="Martin Shkreli, former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, smiles beside Nancy Retzlaff, Turing's chief commercial officer, during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on Thursday."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Martin Shkreli, former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, smiles beside Nancy Retzlaff, Turing's chief commercial officer, during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on Thursday." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/02/04/gettyimages-508357106_wide-5bdb51c7a02e95576bc7d2952a642b40ed4eb70e-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 348px; width: 620px;" title="Martin Shkreli, former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, smiles beside Nancy Retzlaff, Turing's chief commercial officer, during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on Thursday. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)" /></div><div><div><p>Martin Shkreli, the former pharmaceutical executive who inspired wrath <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-09-22/drug-used-cost-1350-tablet-now-costs-750-can-be-justified-113032">when he raised the price of a life-saving drug by 5,000 percent</a>, appeared before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Thursday for a hearing on prescription drug prices.</p></div></div></div><p>But his testimony was far from fruitful.</p><p>You may remember that Shkreli, the founder and former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, became infamous last year. His company bought the rights to the drug Daraprim, which treats a deadly parasitic infection, and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/09/23/442907028/turing-pharmaceuticals-retreats-from-plan-to-raise-price-of-daraprim">raised the price from $13 a pill to $750 a pill</a>. The company later backed off that increase, but Shkreli defended the decision as simply a good business decision.</p><div id="res465557843"><div>&nbsp;</div></div><p>Separately, he&#39;s been&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/12/17/460092620/reports-fbi-arrests-turing-pharmaceuticals-ceo-shkreli-on-fraud-charges">arrested for fraud</a>&nbsp;over a hedge fund he managed from 2009 to 2014. In December, he&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/12/18/460288856/martin-shkreli-resigns-as-turing-pharmaceuticals-ceo">resigned as Turing&#39;s chief executive</a>.</p><p>Shkreli appeared before the House committee on Thursday to discuss drug pricing. The hearing also featured testimony from Dr. Janet Woodcock and Keith Flanagan of the FDA, Howard Schiller of Valeant Pharmaceuticals (which also&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/12/09/458976680/senate-questions-egregious-price-hikes-for-specialty-medicines">has been criticized over its price hikes</a>), Nancy Retzlaff of Turing and Mark Merritt of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association.</p><p>In Turing&#39;s defense, Retzlaff said that two-thirds of patients receive Daraprim at a steep discount through government programs, and that the company funds an assistance program for uninsured, low-income patients.</p><p>Shkreli was much more tight-lipped. His lawyer had advised him to plead the Fifth. And Shkreli followed that advice to the letter.</p><p>After Shkreli declined to give an opening statement, here&#39;s how the first exchange went:</p><blockquote><div><p>Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the committee:&nbsp;&quot;What do you say to that single pregnant woman who might have AIDS, no income, she needs Daraprim in order to survive. What do you say to her when she has to make that choice? What do you say to her?&quot;</p><p>Shkreli:&nbsp;&quot;On the advice of counsel, I invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and respectfully decline to answer your question.&quot;</p><p>...</p><p>Chaffetz:&nbsp;&quot;Do you think you&#39;ve done anything wrong?&quot;</p><p>Shkreli:&nbsp;&quot;On the advice of counsel,&quot; (pausing for a moment) &quot;I invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and respectfully decline to answer your question.&quot;</p></div></blockquote><p>Shkreli confirmed the pronunciation of his name, but otherwise refused to answer all questions directed his way &mdash; even one about his exclusive hip-hop album. (Shkreli bought&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/12/09/459059359/sole-copy-of-latest-wu-tang-album-was-sold-to-pharma-bro">the sole copy</a>&nbsp;of the Wu-Tang Clan album&nbsp;Once Upon A Time In Shaolin.Months after he bought it,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/features/2015-martin-shkreli-wu-tang-clan-album/">he said</a>&nbsp;he still hadn&#39;t listened to the album, but&nbsp;<a href="http://www.vice.com/video/drinking-wine-and-playing-chess-at-martin-shkrelis-midtown-apartment">he did play it for a Vice reporter</a>.)</p><p>Shkreli isn&#39;t usually so reticent. He has been&nbsp;<a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/dandiamond/2015/12/03/what-martin-shkreli-says-now-i-shouldve-raised-prices-higher/#298d30321964">outspoken</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/dandiamond/2015/12/03/what-martin-shkreli-says-now-i-shouldve-raised-prices-higher/#298d30321964">unapologetic</a>&nbsp;in his conversations with reporters &mdash; and his&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8gjB1PSXv_oAUSAQ16S0fA">live video streams</a>&nbsp;from his apartment.</p><p>In fact, his new lawyer has said he agreed to represent Shkreli on one condition: The 32-year-old had to stop granting interviews with the press.</p><p>A visibly frustrated Rep. Trey Gowdy pointed out that Shkreli could answer a wide range of questions without incriminating himself.</p><p>&quot;I intend to follow the advice of my counsel, not yours,&quot; the former pharmaceutical executive said with a tight smile.</p><p>&quot;Well, Mr. Chairman, I am vexed,&quot; Gowdy said, pointing to Shkreli&#39;s readiness to talk to the press, but not to Congress.</p><p>Rep. Elijah Cummings, for his part, didn&#39;t even attempt to question Shkreli, and instead pleaded with him &mdash; arguing that Shkreli could use his position, and his influence over his former company, as a force for good. Cummings said Shkreli could use his influence to advocate for patients&#39; rights and could &quot;make a difference in so many people&#39;s lives.&quot;</p><p>&quot;I know you&#39;re smiling,&quot; Cummings said, &quot;But I&#39;m very serious, sir. The way I see it, you can go down in history as the poster boy for greedy drug company executives, or you could change the system.</p><p>&quot;Yeah,&nbsp;you.&quot;</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="437" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/BPPerZLjp4M" width="777"></iframe></p><p><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/02/04/465548279/no-comment-from-grinning-martin-shkreli-at-house-hearing-on-drug-prices?ft=nprml&amp;f=465548279"><em>&mdash;via NPR</em></a></p></p> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 14:47:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/no-comment-grinning-martin-shkreli-house-hearing-drug-prices-114734 Exec Who Jacked Up Price of a Life-Saving Drug is Arrested http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-12-17/exec-who-jacked-price-life-saving-drug-arrested-114208 <p><div id="attachment_98115"><img alt="Martin Shkreli (center), CEO of Turing Pharmaceutical, is brought out of 26 Federal Plaza by law enforcement officials after being arrested for securities fraud on December 17, 2015 in New York City. Shkreli gained notoriety earlier this year for raising the price of Daraprim, a medicine used to treat the parasitic condition of toxoplasmosis, from $13.50 to $750 though the arrest that happened early this morning does not involve that price hike. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/media.wbur.org/wordpress/11/files/2015/12/1217_martin-shkreli-624x416.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Martin Shkreli, center, CEO of Turing Pharmaceutical, is brought out of 26 Federal Plaza by law enforcement officials after being arrested for securities fraud on December 17, 2015 in New York City. Shkreli gained notoriety earlier this year for raising the price of Daraprim, a medicine used to treat the parasitic condition of toxoplasmosis, from $13.50 to $750 though the arrest that happened early this morning does not involve that price hike. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)" /><p>Martin Shkreli, the former hedge fund manager vilified in nearly every corner of America for buying a pharmaceutical company and jacking up the price of a life-saving drug more than fiftyfold, was arrested Thursday on securities fraud charges unrelated to the furor.</p></div><p>The boyish-looking 32-year-old entrepreneur &ndash; an unapologetically aggressive businessman and relentlessly self-promoting figure who has called himself &ldquo;the world&rsquo;s most eligible bachelor&rdquo; on Twitter and recently plunged into the hip-hop world by buying an unreleased album by the Wu-Tang Clan &ndash; was taken into custody in a gray hoodie and awaited an appearance in federal court in Brooklyn.</p><p>He was charged in a seven-count indictment unconnected to the drug price hikes imposed by his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals. The charges instead involve his actions at another drug company, <a href="http://amda-1pla2o.client.shareholder.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=947501" target="_blank">Retrophin</a>, which he ran as CEO from 2012 to 2014.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/retrophinstatement.JPG" style="height: 240px; width: 620px; margin-top: 5px; margin-bottom: 5px;" title="" /></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The indictment said&nbsp;Shkreli and others orchestrated three interrelated fraud schemes from 2009 to 2014. It said they fraudulently induced investors to sink their money into two separate funds and misappropriated Retrophin&rsquo;s assets to satisfy Shkreli&rsquo;s personal and professional debts.</p><p>Shkreli &ldquo;engaged in multiple schemes to ensnare investors through a web of lies and deceit,&rdquo; U.S. Attorney Robert Capers said in a statement.</p><p><em>The Associated Press contributed to this report.</em></p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/12/17/martin-shkreli-turing-arrested" target="_blank"><em> via Here &amp; Now</em></a></p></p> Thu, 17 Dec 2015 14:25:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-12-17/exec-who-jacked-price-life-saving-drug-arrested-114208 NIH Director: For Obesity, There’s No Magic Pill, Yet http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-12-09/nih-director-obesity-there%E2%80%99s-no-magic-pill-yet-114114 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/1209_obesity-diet-pills-624x415.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="attachment_97466"><img alt="The National Institutes of Health spends more than $800 million on obesity research every year. (Pixabay)" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/media.wbur.org/wordpress/11/files/2015/12/1209_obesity-diet-pills-624x415.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="The National Institutes of Health spends more than $800 million on obesity research every year. (Pixabay)" /></div><div id="attachment_97465"><img alt="Dr. Francis Collins (NIH)" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/media.wbur.org/wordpress/11/files/2015/12/1209_francis-collins-220x300.jpg" style="height: 273px; width: 200px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="Dr. Francis Collins is director of the National Institutes of Health. (NIH)" /><p>The National Institutes of Health (NIH) spends more than $800 million on obesity research every year. That is a fraction compared to the total cost of obesity to taxpayers and those affected with obesity.</p></div><p>According to NIH Director&nbsp;Dr. Francis Collins, that fraction is doing a lot to help find systematic solutions to counteract high obesity rates, but there is still much to be done.</p><p>For part three of<a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/12/09/nih-obesity-no-magic-pill" target="_blank"><em>&nbsp;Here &amp; Now&#39;s </em></a>series&nbsp;<a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/tag/america-on-the-scale" target="_blank">America On The Scale</a>, host Jeremy Hobson speaks with Collins about the latest research and what it says about understanding obesity, its complications and how best to reduce the problem.</p></p> Wed, 09 Dec 2015 14:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-12-09/nih-director-obesity-there%E2%80%99s-no-magic-pill-yet-114114 Senate Questions 'Egregious' Price Hikes For Specialty Medicines http://www.wbez.org/news/senate-questions-egregious-price-hikes-specialty-medicines-114113 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/risingdrugprices_custom-505022b43288089d97f6f5016d9a05f6535cdee0-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res458977182" previewtitle="AIDS activists poured cat litter on an image of Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli during an October protest in New York."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="AIDS activists poured cat litter on an image of Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli during an October protest in New York." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/08/risingdrugprices_custom-505022b43288089d97f6f5016d9a05f6535cdee0-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 401px; width: 620px;" title="AIDS activists poured cat litter on an image of Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli during an October protest in New York. (Craig Ruttle/AP)" /></div><div><div><p>The Senate Special Committee on Aging is holding the first of a series of hearings Wednesday into why the prices of medicines that have been on the market for decades are suddenly climbing.</p></div></div></div><p>The&nbsp;<a href="http://www.aging.senate.gov/">investigation</a>&nbsp;by the Senate committee, led by Maine Republican&nbsp;<a href="https://www.collins.senate.gov/">Susan Collins</a>&nbsp;and Missouri Democrat&nbsp;<a href="http://www.mccaskill.senate.gov/">Claire McCaskill</a>, is focusing on four pharmaceutical companies that bought the rights to certain drugs, and then dramatically increased the prices.</p><p>Collins called the price hikes &ndash; as much as nearly 5,000 percent in one case &mdash; &quot;egregious.&quot;</p><p>&quot;We&#39;ve had nontraditional companies come in, buy the rights to these drugs and then hike it up very high &ndash; and, as one executive put it, just because they can,&quot; Collins tells NPR.</p><p>Collins and McCaskill last month&nbsp;<a href="http://www.aging.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/TuringDocumentRequest.pdf">requested</a>&nbsp;detailed information from Turing Pharmaceuticals, Valeant Pharmaceuticals, Retrophin and Rodelis Therapeutics about several drugs whose prices have skyrocketed in the last year.</p><p>In a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.aging.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/ValeantDocumentRequest.pdf">letter to Valeant</a>, the senators asked for information on three drugs, including Cuprimine, a medicine that treats a metabolic condition called Wilson&#39;s disease. The price of Cuprimine jumped nearly nearly 3,000 percent after Valeant bought the rights to sell it, from $888 for 100 capsules to $26,189 for 100.</p><p>They&#39;ve asked Turing to explain the increase in the price of the toxoplasmosis drug Daraprim, which went from $13 a pill to $750; and they have&nbsp;<a href="http://www.aging.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/RetrophinDocumentRequest1.pdf">requested</a>&nbsp;information from Retrophin about why the price of Thiola, a drug to treat a rare kidney condition, rose from $1.50 a pill to $30.</p><p>Finally the senators<a href="http://www.aging.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/RodelisDocumentRequest1.pdf">&nbsp;asked Rodelis</a>&nbsp;how and why the company decided to raise the price of Seromycin, which treats multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, from just $500 for 30 pills to $10,800.</p><p>&quot;Some of these companies seem to act more like hedge funds than traditional pharmaceutical companies,&quot; Collins says.</p><p>Collins and McCaskill say none of the four companies fully responded to their requests by last week&#39;s deadline.</p><p>In a response to NPR&#39;s request for comment, a Valient spokeswoman emailed, &quot;We are cooperating with the committee&#39;s review, including providing documents they requested.&quot;</p><p>Retrophin supplied this written statement: &quot;Pharmaceutical pricing that strikes the right balance between affordability and enabling innovation is an issue of legitimate concern for patients and the industry, and we look forward to sharing our views with the special committee.&quot;</p><p>Turing and Rodelis didn&#39;t respond to interview requests by NPR.</p><p>The senators say they are determined to get answers; both pledge to issue subpoenas if the companies don&#39;t voluntarily comply.</p><p>Executives from the companies aren&#39;t scheduled to appear at Wednesday&#39;s hearing. McCaskill describes it as a &quot;table-setting&quot; hearing, where representatives from pharmacies, hospitals and universities will lay out the issue. The committee intends to summon executives from the companies later.</p><p>Both senators say they are keen to learn how the companies chose the drugs they bought and how they settled on the high prices.</p><p>&quot;This may be a business model,&quot; McCaskill says. &quot;It may be a way of gouging the public with drugs that are off patent but don&#39;t have a lot of competition because they&#39;re not widely prescribed.&quot;</p><p>She says she became worried about huge price hikes last summer at a hearing that was supposed to be about tax policy. An executive from Valeant was at the hearing, and McCaskill learned that the company had recently purchased rights to a heart drug called Isuprel and then raised the price by more than 500 percent.</p><p>&quot;I asked some pointed questions at that hearing,&quot; McCaskill says, &quot;and I never got answers. And I still haven&#39;t gotten the complete answers.&quot;</p><p>Traditionally, drug companies defend high prices by saying they spent a lot on the research and development of the drug in question. But Valeant didn&#39;t develop Isuprel; it acquired the drug long after it was on the market.</p><p>Valeant sent McCaskill a letter explaining that Isuprel is part of an in-hospital treatment and Valeant&#39;s analysis showed that hospitals could bear the cost.</p><p>&quot;Valeant&#39;s increases in the list prices of Nitropress and Isuprel have had limited impact on the average hospital&#39;s costs,&quot; the company letter said. It said some hospitals use a larger volume of the drugs and added, &quot;For those institutions where the impact was significantly greater, we are beginning to reach out to hospitals to determine an appropriate pricing strategy.&quot;</p><p>Companies like Turing are different from traditional drug companies, according to<a href="http://www.zsassociates.com/about/leadership-team/pratap-khedkar">Pratap Khedkar</a>, a managing director at ZS Associates who consults with the pharmaceutical industry on pricing. He says that&#39;s because they&#39;re not focused on developing new products.</p><p>&quot;It does sound like somebody who&#39;s flipping houses or something,&quot; Khedkar says, &quot;because you&#39;re not adding much value. You&#39;re simply looking for arbitrage, so that&#39;s much more of a hedge fund business than a pharmaceutical business.&quot;</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/12/09/458976680/senate-questions-egregious-price-hikes-for-specialty-medicines?ft=nprml&amp;f=458976680" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Wed, 09 Dec 2015 14:19:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/senate-questions-egregious-price-hikes-specialty-medicines-114113 Pfizer And Allergan To Merge, Creating World’s Largest Drug Company http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-11-23/pfizer-and-allergan-merge-creating-world%E2%80%99s-largest-drug-company <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/8020220676_f81c0a2674_k.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="attachment_96610"><div id="attachment_96610"><img alt="People walk past Pfizer's world headquarters, Monday, Nov. 23, 2015 in New York. Pfizer and Allergan will join in a $160 billion deal to create the world's largest drugmaker. (Mark Lennihan/AP)" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/media.wbur.org/wordpress/11/files/2015/11/1123_pfizer-ny-624x424.jpg" style="height: 421px; width: 620px;" title="People walk past Pfizer’s world headquarters, Monday, Nov. 23, 2015 in New York. Pfizer and Allergan will join in a $160 billion deal to create the world’s largest drugmaker. (Mark Lennihan/AP)" /><p>The drug companies Pfizer and Allergan said today that they will merge, in a nearly $160 billion deal that would create the world&rsquo;s biggest drug maker, and bring Botox and Viagra under one roof.</p></div><p>Allergan is based in Dublin, Ireland, and the joint company could reincorporate there &ndash; making it an inversion, and the biggest inversion ever.&nbsp;<a href="http://People walk past Pfizer's world headquarters, Monday, Nov. 23, 2015 in New York. Pfizer and Allergan will join in a $160 billion deal to create the world's largest drugmaker. (Mark Lennihan/AP) People walk past Pfizer’s world headquarters, Monday, Nov. 23, 2015 in New York. Pfizer and Allergan will join in a $160 billion deal to create the world’s largest drugmaker. (Mark Lennihan/AP) The drug companies Pfizer and Allergan said today that they will merge, in a nearly $160 billion deal that would create the world’s biggest drug maker, and bring Botox and Viagra under one roof. Allergan is based in Dublin, Ireland, and the joint company could reincorporate there – making it an inversion, and the biggest inversion ever. Here &amp; Now’s Meghna Chakrabarti speaks with CBS News’ Jill Schlesinger to understand what’s happening." target="_blank"><em>Here &amp; Now&rsquo;s</em></a>&nbsp;Meghna Chakrabarti speaks with CBS News&rsquo;&nbsp;Jill Schlesinger&nbsp;to understand what&rsquo;s happening.</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 13:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-11-23/pfizer-and-allergan-merge-creating-world%E2%80%99s-largest-drug-company EcoMyths: The big reasons not to flush old medicines down the toliet http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-big-reasons-not-flush-old-medicines-down-toliet-105716 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F80812811&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP120218166375_3.jpg" style="float: left; width: 243px; height: 346px;" title="Area residents dispose of unneeded medications at the drug take back event on Feb. 18, 2012, at Walgreens and other participating locations in Palm Springs, CA. The event was sponsored by the C.A.R.E.S. Alliance, with support from the Palm Springs Police Department. (Rodrigo Pena/AP Images for The C.A.R.E.S. Alliance and Palm Springs Police Department)" />Over the years, you may have heard that the recommended way to dispose of unused pharmaceuticals is to flush them down the toilet or pour them down the drain - not anymore.&nbsp; The EPA and FDA backed off this recommendation for almost all drugs (exceptions are listed on the <a href="http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/EnsuringSafeUseofMedicine/SafeDisposalofMedicines/ucm186187.htm#Flushing_list">FDA website</a>).&nbsp; Medicines are among the thousands of &ldquo;chemicals of emerging concern&rdquo; the EPA and much of the scientific community now monitor and study.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Today for our <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths"><em>EcoMyths</em></a> segment, Jerome McDonnell and I discuss the pros and cons of flushing medicines with two experts: &nbsp;<a href="http://www.greatlakes.org/Document.Doc?id=1154">Olga Lyandres, PhD</a> of the <a href="http://www.greatlakes.org/Document.Doc?id=1154">Alliance for the Great Lakes</a>, author of the paper &ldquo;<a href="http://www.greatlakes.org/document.doc?id=1263">Keeping Great Lakes Water Safe: Priorities for Protecting against Emerging Chemical Pollutants</a>&rdquo;; and <a href="http://apps.mwrd.org/commissioners/shore.pdf">Commissioner Debra Shore</a> of the <a href="http://www.mwrd.org">Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago</a> (MWRD).&nbsp; Both had a lot to say about the dangers of and the solutions for the contamination of our drinking water by dissolved pharmaceuticals and other household products.<strong> See how we &quot;flush&quot; <a href="http://ecomythsalliance.org/2013/02/flushing-meds/">this myth</a> at the EcoMyths Alliance website!</strong></div><p><u>Why Dispose of Unused Drugs?</u></p><p>The &ldquo;chemical soup&rdquo; that Lyandres mentions is of concern because of the strange mix of chemicals that we dispose of in our waste stream.&nbsp; These chemicals show up in trace amounts in our drinking water, creating a potentially harmful cocktail of chemicals.</p><p>Source: <a href="http://www.jonbarron.org/article/aqua-horribilis">http://www.jonbarron.org/article/aqua-horribilis</a></p><p>Common chemicals in the waste stream include Prozac, Viagra, and caffeine. &nbsp;As she explained, no one understands the chemistry that occurs when these and other compounds are mixed together. Nor is much is known about the potential impacts on human health. But studies show adverse ecological impacts of <a href="http://epa.gov/endo/pubs/edspoverview/whatare.htm">endocrine disruptors</a> in our waterways, including &ldquo;intersex fish&rdquo; &ndash; that is, the male fish in the Potomac River Watershed <a href="http://www.fws.gov/contaminants/DisplayNews.cfm?NewsID=E2FDE07T-74%20D0-11D4-288DC74E7914EA01">bearing eggs</a>!</p><p><strong><u>Two really important reasons to properly dispose of unused medicines</u></strong></p><ul><li>To prevent accidental, and possibly fatal, use of the drug by people for whom the medicine was not prescribed.&nbsp;</li><li>To prevent environmental contamination in of our waterways and soils.</li></ul><p><u>What Can a Person Do To Help?</u></p><p>First, it is important to note that using expired medications is potentially harmful to your health.&nbsp; Once a medicine expires, not only can it lose its potency, but also its chemical composition may have changed.&nbsp;</p><p>Over the past two years, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has increased focus on this issue by instituting nationwide pharmaceutical &ldquo;Take Back Days&rdquo;.&nbsp; By making it easier for people to dispose of their medicines safely, the DEA has collected millions of pounds of drugs as a result of this program. The next <a href="http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/index.html">National Drug Take Back Day</a> is April 27, 2013 and will be administered by state law enforcement.&nbsp;</p><p>Commissioner Shore points out that sewage treatment plants do not have the capabilities to clean out the thousands of chemicals that get into the waste stream from home plumbing, storm water, and other sources.&nbsp; So we have to do our part to keep chemicals out of the water system in the first place.</p><p>Both Shore and Lyandres advise people to keep an eye on the expiration dates of their prescribed and over-the-counter medications.&nbsp; When the drugs are expired or unused, there are several safe ways to dispose of medicines to keep them out of getting into your drinking water.&nbsp; Below are our experts&rsquo; recommendations on safe disposal.</p><p><u>Disposing of Medicines Safely</u></p><ul><li><u>Local Municipal and Other Agency Collection Sites</u>: Commissioner Shore recommends finding a drug collection location near your home.&nbsp; The Illinois <a href="http://www.epa.state.il.us/medication-disposal/locations/index.html">EPA lists medication disposal locations in by county</a> on its website. The MWRD also participates in the DEA Take Back days at several of its water treatment plants in Cook County.</li></ul><ul><li><u>Special Envelopes Sold at Local Stores</u>:&nbsp; Major pharmacies, such as <a href="http://info.cvscaremark.com/newsroom/press-releases/cvs-caremark-helps-launch-partnership-drugfreeorgs-national-campaign-curb-te">CVS</a> and <a href="http://www.walgreens.com/topic/sr/sr_community_safe_medication_disposal.jsp">Walgreens</a>, sell specially designed envelopes for mailing used medicines to safe disposal facilities.</li></ul><ul><li><u>Trash it as a Last Resort</u>:&nbsp; If there are no local medicine disposal alternatives, the FDA recommends throwing away old medicine in a plastic bag after mixing it with kitty litter or coffee grounds.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; This is not the best option, since the bag goes into a landfill. There is a chance that eventually the package could leak and the drugs leech into groundwater. However, disposing expired medications in the trash is still better than flushing them down the toilet.</li></ul></p> Mon, 25 Feb 2013 09:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-big-reasons-not-flush-old-medicines-down-toliet-105716 Banishing Wrinkles With Botox May Make You Miss Others' Emotions http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-04-25/banishing-wrinkles-botox-may-make-you-miss-others-emotions-85657 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//npr_story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-25/eyes_custom.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A few well-placed <a href="http://www.botoxcosmetic.com/home.aspx">Botox</a> injections can erase your hard-won character lines. But that may also make you less likely to pick up on <em>other </em>people's emotions.</p><p>That's because the botulinum toxin, which reduces wrinkles by temporarily paralyzing small muscles in the face, can make it hard to furrow the brow or make other expressions that convey emotion. And our own facial expressions, researchers now <a href="http://spp.sagepub.com/content/early/2011/04/21/1948550611406138.abstract" target="_self">show</a>, may be essential to recognizing the feelings of others.</p><p>This unexpected Botox effect is a fascinating window on how we understand what other people are feeling. A good part of that process requires unconscious mimicry of the other person's facial expression.</p><p></p><p>Think about it. Don't you often smile when someone smiles at you? Put on a worried or dismayed face when a friend looks troubled? Tear up when someone else cries?</p><p>"The tendency to mimic facial expressions is rapid, automatic and highly emotion-specific," write <a href="http://psychology.usc.edu/people/faculty_display.cfm?person_id=1027134">David Neal</a> and <a href="http://psychandneuro.duke.edu/people?subpage=profile&Gurl=%2Faas%2Fpn&Uil=tanya.chartrand">Tanya Chartrand</a> in an intriguing paper just published online by <em>Social Psychological and Personality Science.</em></p><p><em> </em></p><p>Neal and Chartrand say the subtle contraction of our facial muscles when we mirror a friend's happiness or woe generates a feedback signal to our brains. Those incoming signals from facial nerves help the brain interpret how the other person is feeling.</p><p>It's all part of neuroscientists' recent focus on so-called "<a href="http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/ramachandran06/ramachandran06_index.html">mirror neurons</a>" – the brain cells that give us the power to empathize (to "feel with") someone else.</p><p>It's not easy to prove the existence of what psychologists call "<a href="http://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/getArticle.cfm?id=2606">embodied cognition</a>" – the idea that the body influences the mind as well as the other way around.</p><p>Botox gave the researchers the opportunity to dampen the neural feedback from study subjects' facial muscles without introducing any drugs to the brain (Botox injected into the face does not get into the brain), or asking them to make a conscious effort to remain expressionless.</p><p>In one experiment, the researchers recruited 31 women who were already having either Botox treatments or injections of a <a href="http://www.dermanetwork.org/information/dermalfillers.asp">dermal filler</a>, which plumps up wrinkles but doesn't paralyze muscles. After the treatment, the women were shown a series of images that showed people's eyes embodying different emotional states. Study subjects were asked to judge, as quickly as possible, what emotion the eyes conveyed.</p><p>The Botox patients scored significantly worse than those who got a dermal filler. That meant the Botox patients' ability to make fast judgments about another person's emotions was blunted. (The Botox didn't eliminate their ability to judge emotion. They still were about 70 percent accurate.)</p><p>Neal and Chartrand then tested the opposite of the Botox effect. That is, they looked at how people judged emotive expressions when the feedback from their own facial muscles was amplified, rather than damped-down.</p><p>To do this, they painted one of those face-mask gels on subjects' temples and foreheads. When the gel dried and tightened, it provided resistance to subjects' facial muscles whenever they smiled, frowned or furrowed their brows. That amplified the neural feedback from muscles to brain.</p><p>Sure enough, people wearing the gel masks did better in judging other people's expressions than controls, who had the gel painted on their forearms. But when the researchers played audio clips of people expressing different emotions in their voices, there was no difference. That meant the improved performance was due to muscle mimicry, not just any emotive input.</p><p>The cognitive implications go well beyond Botox users. But the findings do make Neal and Chartrand wonder if prolonged use of Botox would hobble people's ability to perceive others' emotions and give others empathetic facial feedback.</p><p>"Mimicry promotes liking and emotional sharing," the researchers say, "and may contribute to long-term relationship satisfaction."</p><p>Having a Botox mask may undermine those bonds. </p> Mon, 25 Apr 2011 15:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-04-25/banishing-wrinkles-botox-may-make-you-miss-others-emotions-85657 In Funding Hunt, FDA Looks To Fees From Generic Drugmakers http://www.wbez.org/story/business/2011-02-18/funding-hunt-fda-looks-fees-generic-drugmakers-82536 <p><p>The Food and Drug Administration is looking for money anywhere it can these days. And it's increasingly asking the drug, device and food industries it regulates to kick in some cash in the form of user fees to make up for budget shortfalls.</p><p>Right now, the FDA's got its sights on the companies that make generic copies of brand-name drugs. Generics <a href="http://www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=11838">saved Medicare consumers</a> about $8 billion in 2007 and the government billions more, says the Congressional Budget Office.</p><p>"We are at something of a tipping point," FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg told generic drug industry leaders at the <a href="http://www.gphaonline.org/">Generic Pharmaceutical Association</a> conference today in Orlando, Fla.</p><p></p><p>That's because several high profile brand-name drugs are set to come off patent in the next few years, clearing the way for generic competition. That includes Pfizer's blockbuster <a href="http://www.lipitor.com/aboutLipitor/benefitsOfLipitor.aspx?source=google&HBX_PK=s_lipitor&HBX_OU=50&o=23127370nullnullnull">Lipitor</a>, which it seems just about every man over 40 in this country is taking to lower his cholesterol.</p><p>And, the industry is facing a backlog of <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/2010/november/viewpoint/overview/index.htm">thousands</a> generic drug applications, with more streaming in every month.</p><p>The FDA fears it won't be able to approve generic drug applications as quickly as when the patents expire, not to mention conduct inspections and develop streamlined standards, given its <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2011/02/14/133748987/whats-in-the-2012-budget-plan-npr-breaks-it-down#health">current budget limitations</a>.</p><p>That fear seems to be striking a chord with generic drug company execs, who for the first time in years, say they're open to user fees.</p><p>"We must be able to move when those drugs come off patent," Mylan President Heather Bresch <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704409004576146663904196914.html?mod=googlenews_wsj">tells</a> the <em>Wall Street Journal</em>.</p><p>Generic drugs now make up nearly <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2010/06/07/127531274/generics">three-quarters of U.S. prescriptions</a>, and the number is expected to grow as insurance companies push them to keep medical costs down.</p><p>And generic drugmakers are the last major medical product industry that doesn't have an FDA user fee model, Hamburg pointed out at the meeting.</p><p>"The bottom line is that a user fee program will provide additional resources to help FDA fulfill our common mission to ensure safety and quality and inspire the trust and confidence of the public," Hamburg said.</p><p>Just how a generic drug user fee will take shape is the next big question. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1298056333?&gn=In+Funding+Hunt%2C+FDA+Looks+To+Fees+From+Generic+Drugmakers&ev=event2&ch=103537970&h1=Policy-ish,Pharmaceuticals,Shots+-+Health+Blog,Health,Governing,Health+Care,Politics,Business,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=133866932&c7=1128&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1128&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110218&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c31=133188445,126567381,103537970&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Fri, 18 Feb 2011 12:31:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/business/2011-02-18/funding-hunt-fda-looks-fees-generic-drugmakers-82536 How olive oil and Ibuprofen can make you want to cough http://www.wbez.org/story/brain-candy/how-olive-oil-and-ibuprofen-can-make-you-want-cough <p><p>Ever wonder about that peppery and irresistible urge to cough you feel at the back of your throat when you slurp some extra virgin olive oil?</p><p>If you're EVOO junkies like us (and who isn't?) the answer is probably yes.</p><p></p><p>So, we have another question. Ever try to swallow an ibuprofen tablet when you didn't have a glass of water around –- and ended up with a burning pain at the back of your throat that took hours to go away? We've had that happen too.</p><p>Well, it turns out in a weird coincidence that both sensations are caused by the same thing --- something called the <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK5237/">TRPA1 receptor</a>.</p><p>TRPA1 is a protein on the surface of cells at the back of your throat. It's probably there as a defense against noxious chemicals in the air. But it's also uniquely sensitive to EVOO and ibuprofen (and similar non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).</p><p>That's interesting to scientists, because the common link is one of the most important phenomena in medicine – inflammation, and chemicals that dampen it.</p><p>Researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center and coworkers have discovered that those back-of-the-throat receptors recognize a anti-inflammatory agent in EVOO called oleocanthal. The chemical is a potent inhibitor of an inflammatory enzyme called COX (cyclooxygenase). And that's just how ibuprofen works to reduce inflammation.</p><p>The overlap between EVOO and ibuprofen is the subject of an article in the January 19 issue of the <a href="http://www.jneurosci.org/"><em>Journal of Neuroscience</em></a>.</p><p>Back to that EVOO cough. Connoisseurs of olive oil know that the cough response is a marker for how pungent the oil is – a sign of purity. They even <a href="http://consumers.californiaoliveranch.com/health/olive-oil-primer-a-look-at-the-koroneiki-olive/">rate</a> EVOOs as one-cough, two-cough, even three-cough.</p><p>This pungency is valued in other foods and seasonings – think <a href="http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/40230.php">wasabi</a>, the tear-inducing green mustard served with sushi. Or that indispensable ingredient called garlic. (A related receptor is responsible for the perception of the chemical <a href="http://www.phytochemicals.info/phytochemicals/capsaicin.php">capsaicin</a>, which makes chilis hot.)</p><p>But the same receptor activated by a good EVOO is also responsible for the get-me-outta-here feeling when humans <a href="http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/40230.php">inhale tear gas</a>, tailpipe exhaust and the acrid smoke that asphyxiates firefighters. The insect repellent in citronella also works <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2010/08/26/129445731/a-look-at-why-insect-repellents-work">by tripping TRPA1</a>.</p><p>The Monell scientists point out that the reason TRPA1 makes you cough is that it's positioned at "the last possible checkpoint" before noxious air enters the deep airways to the lungs. The cough is the body's way of expelling the bad air before it does real damage.</p><p>So isn't it ironic that humans have transformed a primal defense against noxious fumes into an indicator of gourmet quality? The authors of the paper wonder if it might have something to do with the health benefits of anti-inflammatory chemicals.</p><p>"We suggest," they write, "that by a process not yet well understood, people have come, perhaps unconsciously, to transform an inherently unpleasant sensation into a positive one because it has beneficial health effects" – namely, anti-inflammatory effects.</p><p>More than just curious, the observation might contain some medically valuable clues. Maybe, scientists think, the TRPA1 receptor can tell them something about treatment of chronic pain and <a href="http://www.ionchannels.org/showabstract.php?pmid=18456404">asthma</a>. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1295459872?&gn=How+Olive+Oil+And+Ibuprofen+Can+Make+You+Want+To+Cough&ev=event2&ch=103537970&h1=Fitness+%26+Nutrition,Research,Pharmaceuticals,Shots+-+Health+News+Blog,Brain+Candy,Health,Your+Health,Science,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=133050281&c7=1128&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1128&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110119&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c31=126567887,126567633,126567381,103537970&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Wed, 19 Jan 2011 11:05:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/brain-candy/how-olive-oil-and-ibuprofen-can-make-you-want-cough Chicago researchers find shaky evidence behind widespread use of psychiatric drugs http://www.wbez.org/story/mental-health/chicago-researchers-find-shaky-evidence-behind-widespread-use-psychiatric-drugs <p><p>New anti-psychotic medicines such as Seraquel, Risperdal and Zyprexa are some of the biggest sellers in the drug industry. But Chicago researchers say most of the time, those drugs are prescribed for uses not approved by regulators, and not supported by science.</p><p>This new generation of antipsychotics, called atypicals, were thought to be a big improvement over older drugs. But research is increasingly showing that those expectations haven&rsquo;t panned out.</p><p>&ldquo;There was promise that atypical agents were substantially safer and possibly more effective,&rdquo; said Caleb Alexander, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. &ldquo;And time and time again, we&rsquo;ve seen we&rsquo;re wrong in that case.&rdquo;</p><p>Still, the drugs are widely prescribed for so-called off-label use, like dementia and anxiety, for which there&rsquo;s scant evidence they&rsquo;re effective. Alexander found unsupported use of the drugs has more than doubled since the mid-1990s. In 2008, some 54 percent of treatment visits involving atypicals were for off-label use for which the supporting science is sketchy at best. That adds up to about $6 billion in annual costs to patients, insurers and the government.</p><p><a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pds.2005/abstract">Alexander&rsquo;s paper is out in the Journal Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety. </a><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 07 Jan 2011 21:31:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/mental-health/chicago-researchers-find-shaky-evidence-behind-widespread-use-psychiatric-drugs